Healing through Art

Art is a language without boundaries & therefore a place where children as well as adults can feel at ease to communicate through visual imagery. Gunawirra uses Art therapy as an approach to healing for its work with mothers and children.

Culture, Art and Empowerment for Mothers

Gunawirra implements programs within the organization which enables mothers and children to build self-discovery, self-confidence and connectedness with their culture, families and communities. Embracing, practising and learning their culture enables the mothers and their children to become empowered with knowledge and skills to take with them on their life journeys. One of the programs Gunawirra and Graham Toomey, our cultural advisor, provide is an Art gathering for the mothers. The art gathering provides a safe friendly space for the mothers to create indigenous artworks and ceramic works which represents themselves, family, heritage and culture.

Art always has and will hold an important place within Australian Indigenous culture. Through art and learning about their culture, the mothers become more proud of their heritage which then transcends onto their children, families and communities. The art gathering also incorporates learning traditional ways of life, spiritual beliefs, finding family, values and beliefs from the past. Learning these important cultural components enables the mothers to create artworks that relate to them, family and one’s own ‘Country’.


Learning Culture and Art for Pre-school children

Graham Toomey, our cultural consultant and Aboriginal artist, works alongside Gunawirras professional Art Therapists in educating Indigenous pre-school children about their Indigenous culture and Art. Graham educates the children in creating art that relates and connects them to their traditions, ‘dreamtime stories’, ancestors and beliefs. When educating the children about these cultural values then enables the children to create drawings and paintings can describe sensitive situations at home and at school. Graham also educates the teachers and volunteers with using art to tell stories and beliefs through symbols, colour and styles. The teachers then have the knowledge and skills to instruct the children in creating artworks about their homes, their likes and dislikes and about traditional ‘Dreamtime stories’.


Graham Toomey

Graham Toomey is an emerging Aboriginal artist who is a descendant of the Wiradjuri and Wongaibon people’s from western New South Wales. Graham currently practices his work at Mascot in Sydney. Graham works passionately for Gunawirra as their Cultural Consultant and Advisor; and also is Gunawirra’s artists in residence.

Graham’s creative works express his powerful spiritual connection to his people, ancestors, culture and his ‘country’.

“My ancestors awoke me in the night in 2010 and told me to start creating artworks. My ancestors did this so that they may return from the spirit world where they rest to the world of today to share their stories, thoughts, feelings and their history. I’m their voice and their instrument for reconnecting with me, our People, Culture and ‘Country.

My work reflects and symbolises my people’s traditional values and beliefs. It can be seen as educational in terms of how my people survived and how beautiful, magical and spiritual my culture is. When I work, a powerful spiritual event happens. In these incredible moments I strongly feel spiritually connected with my ancestors, it’s as though they are in the same room as me guiding my hand and inspiring me in what and how to create. This is my life now and I respect, value and treasure what my ancestors have given me”.

Graham Toomey